Following the cancelation of Art Dubai, a major revenue driver for galleries in the region, the United Arab Emirates went on a buying spree, purchasing more than $400,000 worth of art produced by emerging and established Emirati artists. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy was behind the acquisition campaign, which it launched in an attempt to help the nation’s cultural sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the cancelation of the many art events that were scheduled to take place this season, we wanted to send a message of solidarity to our artists,” Minister of State Zaki Nusseibeh told The National. “It is a message that demonstrates our deep appreciation and support for the local arts, and acknowledging that they are a critical part of the national identity.” Nusseibeh, who is spearheading the initiative, said that the works will be placed within ten of the UAE’s embassies and that the ministry will continue buying artwork until there is a piece by a local artist in every UAE embassy worldwide.
A committee made up of art historians, curators, and arts experts was set up to advise the “Artists in Embassies” program, which was organized in collaboration with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, on which works best represent the diverse artistic traditions of the Emirates. The ministry also consulted with diplomats to better understand the artistic landscape and cultural sensibilities of the countries where the art would be displayed.
“We want to lend our support to everyone who is part of the country’s rich artistic ecosystem,” said Nusseibeh, who expressed hope that the ministry’s support of the arts will motivate those with the means to do the same.